Once upon a time I was an invisible observer of a debate in an online chatroom which was focusing on the issue of what was required for a person to be granted good standing with God. This was during the pre-social media days of the internet and chatrooms were where a lot of the action took place. Dozens of people were chiming in with their opinions about how a person could be know God and be accepted by God. Some of the views were in direct alignment with my own views and I silently cheered them on as they cited Scripture to show that there is nothing we can do on our own to be made right before God. They asserted repeatedly that we are accepted by a holy God by grace through faith, via the finished work of Jesus Christ. Other opinions ranged from the idea that we are already acceptable to God on our own to the notion that we needed to mix faith in Jesus with some form of appropriate behavior if we hope to ever have good standing with the Father. Still other people, though fewer in number, cast stones at the idea that there even existed a God to accept us at all. It was probably not the best use of an hour of my time but remembering the dialogue in that chatroom years ago prompts me to think on important two questions today:
What is God like?
What does He want from me?
To ask, “What is God like?” may be the single most essential question that a human being can ponder. An ancient writer once posed a similar question in a context of his awestruck worship when he penned in Psalm 113:5-6, “Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?” Most of us have some concept of who we believe that God is, but I discern that the shift of ideas in our culture concerning God, spirituality, humanity and eternity warrants a renewed investigation of what the Bible actually says about God.
What if one of us has embraced a concept of God that was not accurate? What if a person assumed that he or she knew God, but actually had believed someone else’s inaccurate ideas about God? Left on our own, we will inevitably fashion an understanding about what God is like that results in Him seeming a lot like…us. This is the core of man-made religion: we want God to suit our tastes so we tweak Him until we are comfortable with His identity. This is a hazard I am not personally willing to risk.
People get God wrong all the time, and this is the folly of human religion. We make God in our own image which is the reverse of what Scripture teaches us in Genesis 1:27. For some people, God is harsh, scary, violent and angry. Others believe Him to be indulgent, permissive, detached and disinterested. Invariably, many of us frame our understanding of God based on our experiences with some earthly figure in our childhood or present lives – parents, religious leaders, spouses or mentors can all skew our understanding of the Almighty. The truth is that we are bombarded with influences that seek to sculpt our minds concerning the personhood and character of God.
Confession: in the end, it does not really matter what any of us think of Him if it is not aligned with what He reveals about Himself. God is not an idea to be debated, He is a Sovereign to be loved, trusted and adored. If that is going to happen, we must first know who God is, not who we think He is, not who we wish He would be, not who someone told us that He is… but who He actually is.
There are a lot of questions to which the answers are not all that important: does this outfit make me look fat? Will be the Atlanta Braves make it to the 2019 World Series? How many calories does a Krispy Kreme raspberry glazed donut assail me with? These questions do not have a lasting, significant impact on us. But discovering what God is like does not fall into the category of the merely interesting or curious. It is the single most important question that can be considered. It cannot be overstated that what we think about God is the most important thing about us. Eternity hangs on this singular nail.
There is a God. He has a divine personality which we can know. He has a plan, and part of that plan involves what He offers us and what He requires of us. This plan of His for us is coming to a climax – I believe this will occur much sooner than many expect. We need to know who God is, what He is like and what He is doing. The revelation of the answers to all of these questions are located on the pages of your bible, God’s inspired Word. the Bible is the greatest material gift that has ever been granted by God to humanity. Scripture is the self-disclosure of the identity and nature of who the God of the universe is. He invites us to learn from Him. In essence, God says, “Here is my eternal autobiography. Read it. Let me tell you about myself.”
Do you have assurance that you know who He is? Are you vulnerably trusting in what somebody else told you about Him? Are you assured that that person/those people knew themselves who He declares Himself to be?
Too much rests on you knowing the answers to these two questions. You must go on a discovery mission to find out for yourself.
What is God like?
What does He want from me?